Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
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Wednesday AM Bible Study
September 10, 2003
Many people end their lives in a state of regretful alienation from God.
They chose to live apart from Him at one point; but near the end of their
lives, having realized their terrible error, they still do not repent.
They feel that they chose their course, and now they must live with it.
In the end, the thing that keeps them from turning to the God who offers
His love and forgiveness to them is sinful pride. It takes so much humility
to admit the wrong of bad life choices that many refuse to do so. It requires
humility to fall before God, admit one's error, and repent of it, appealing
to God for saving grace and mercy. It can therefore be rightly said that
pride is the sin that keeps more people on the course to hell than any
This leads us to James' instructions in James 4:1-10; and most specifically
to verse 6. There we find that the message of the Gospel is a call for
us to do what many, sadly, fail to do - to humble ourselves before a gracious
God in order to receive His offer of grace.
James here quotes from Proverbs 3:34; and in a sense, the whole gospel
message is contained in this one verse. It speaks of (1) the rift of 'opposition'
created between ourselves and God because of our sin, (2) the Good News
that God is able to bridge that rift and give a grace to sinners that
is greater than their sin, and (3) how we can personally receive this
I. THE RIFT: GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD.
"... Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud ...'"
A. "Pride" is one of the things that God explicitly says he
'hates' (Proverbs 6:16-17; see also 16:5, 18; Psalm 138:6). At the heart
of it, pride is saying to God, "My will - not Yours - be done!" Every
time we sin, every time we disobey God, we're in essence saying to Him
that we think we know better than He how to run our lives and bring about
our own happiness. We're in essence setting ourselves up above Him and
His commands. And so, pride is at the root of sin. No wonder God hates
B. Perhaps that's why this same idea is found in other places in the
New Testament. It sums up so much of the difference that exists between
those to whom God shows mercy and those whom He opposes (1 Peter 5:5-6;
C. Pride, more than anything else, keeps people out of heaven; because
no one can come to Jesus as the Savior unless they first admit that
they are sinners that need to be saved. How God hates it when one of
His fallen creatures struts around before Him in arrogant pride - especially
when He stands so ready to offer them His grace!
II. THE GOOD NEWS: GOD GIVES MORE GRACE.
"But He gives more grace."
A. Because of our sin nature, inherited from Adam, we have
a sinful bent toward arrogantly setting ourselves up against our Creator
and His commandments. No sooner does God tells us to do something in His
Laws and commandments, than we are refusing to do it. No sooner does He
tell us not to do something, than we're off doing it . . . and suffering
B. But consider Romans 5:20-21. The bad news is that God is opposed
to the proud. But the Good News is that Jesus died on the cross to pay
the penalty of our sins; so that the proud man or woman -- living in
open rebellion against his or her Creator - can be forgiven, the opposition
can end, and God's grace can be poured out upon them. It's a 'grace'
that is greater' or 'more' than the sin.
III. THE OFFER: GRACE IS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO ARE HUMBLE BEFORE HIM.
"'... But gives grace to the humble.'"
A. Imagine a man going to the doctor, and the doctor telling
him, "You have a deadly disease. Your situation is very, very grave; and
you can only be saved if you will do exactly what I tell you to do." What
if the patient then said, "Well, thanks, doc; but I don't think I'm as
bad off as you're making me out to be. After all, there's other folks
that are worse off than I am. And I do appreciate your advice; but let
me tell you what I plan to do to make myself better . . ." Such a man
would be an arrogant, prideful fool who deserved what he got. And a man
or a woman is no less an arrogant, prideful fool when God tells them that
they are sinners who are doomed to judgment, and tells them how to be
saved, only to reject God's verdict and offer of salvation because they
don't like it.
B. Obviously, to be saved then, one must "humble themselves in the
presence of the Lord." No one can come to God for salvation in any other
way than in total humility. Consider why this is so:
1. To be saved by God, someone would have to admit that they
have sinned against Him - that they had lived in rebellion against the
One to whom they rightfully belonged. This requires humility.
2. To be saved by God, they'd have to admit that there's nothing
they could ever do - no amount of good deeds -- that could ever pay
the penalty for their sins and make things right with Him. Again,
humility is needed to admit this.
3. To be saved by God, they'd have to admit to God that, unless
He did something, they would rightly deserve His condemnation and
wrath; and that He would be just in condemning them to eternal judgment
and to thrust them from His presence forever. To admit this about
oneself requires humility.
4. To be saved by God, they'd have to place their trust completely
in the only provision God has made for their sins -- the only payment
for sins that He accepts - that is, the sacrifice of His own dear,
sinless Son on the cross. They cannot offer an alternative to Him.
They would have to humble themselves before Him and accept His plan.
5. To be saved by God, they'd have to accept that, when they trust
in the sacrifice of Christ alone for their sins, God is satisfied
with that sacrifice, and counts their faith in it as 'righteousness'.
In humility, they would have to refrain from trying to 'augment' God's
salvation with their own good deeds - which could never be good enough!
6. And to be saved by God, they'd have to turn away from their old
sinful life-style patterns, and, out of love for their Savior, increasingly
hate the sins that put Him on the cross in the first place. They could
not, in arrogant pride, cling to the cross on which Jesus died for
sins, and at the same time cling to the same sins He died to save
them from. This, too, would require humility.
* * * * * * * * * *
King David modeled something of this humility for us in Psalm 32. He
had committed the horrible sin of adultery with another man's wife; and
then complicated his situation further by murdering the man himself. He
suffered greatly under the discipline of God for this. But his experience
reveals the pattern of repentance:
A. Following his repentance in humility, David wrote of how
he attempted to cover up his sin - and of the way he suffered for it (vv.
1-4). The pride that made him keep this sin a secret was eating him up
B. Finally, once David was confronted by a prophet, he crumbled before
God in humility and repented (v. 5). God is ready to show forgiveness
and grace toward any sinner - no matter how much they have rebelled
against Him. And to humble oneself before the Lord is the first step
toward experiencing this grace.
C. And so, we're given a marvelous invitation to repent (vv. 6-7).
What a wonderfully gracious God our God is! We have all sinned against
Him. We have all shaken our fists at Him in arrogant pride at one time
or another, and told Him that we would not obey Him as He commanded
us to do, and that we would not worship Him as He created us to do.
But, as James reminds us, God gives a greater grace.
Have you humbled yourself before Him and received His saving grace through